Friday, June 7, 2013

Battle Looms: Dagupan Mayor vs. Amb. Cabangon-Chua


The other day I was with a political operator where we dropped by at the session hall of a first class town in Central Pangasinan.
 We found the vice mayor there exchanging pleasantries with reelected councilors who are scions of multi-millionaire families in the town.
Some of them spent millions of pesos through vote buying and dole outs just to win their reelection bid in an office that gives them roughly P30, 000 a month salary.
 “Please tell your father that you run for the PCL (Philippine Councilors League-Pangasinan Chapter) so that you can be a member of the provincial board,” the operator told a young councilor whose father is a big time government contractor.
Mayor Belen Fernandez
 “Magkano ang bilihan ng boto para manalo manong (how much we are going to spend to buy votes to win the PCL, big brother)”? My operator friend told him and his curious colleague in the august chamber that the province has 44 towns.
 He explained that the trade dictates that he has to dine and wine the mayor, vice mayor, and eight dads of the town in a plush restaurant or hotel to ingratiate with them before he shells out the following amount: Mayor, P20, 000; Vice Mayor, P15, 000, Each of the eight councilors, P10,000 or a total of P5,720,000. “Lalaki pa iyan pag iyong rival mo offers the same amount (Your P6 million spikes if your rival for the PCL offers the same amount),” the operator explained.
Now dear readers you wonder probably what the heck happens to a solon spending millions of pesos for a position that gives only a P40,000 monthly salary in his three years stint at the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (provincial board)?
 My answer: Prestige man, that stupid prestige!

City State Saving’s Bank (CSSB), owned by tycoon Antonio Cabangon -Chua, would be earning a windfall because it found itself doing business in the middle of the burgeoning wet market of Dagupan City.
CSSB occupied the ground floor of the former Mac Adore International Palace Hotel where the latter was bought by the tycoon for P119 million from the city government under outgoing Mayor Benjie S. Lim who suffered a stroke a day before the May 13 poll.
 “Suerti ng banko na iyan iyong mga vendors kanya-kanyang deposit ng tag P300 lang na kinukuha na ng collectors ng bangko kada hapon,” a vendor quipped.
 But it was not all sunshine for the bank after it opened for business. Weeks after its operation the newly elected mayor Belen Fernandez, a bitter critic of the sale of the edifice, told the media that CSSB should not be operating as it fails to acquire a mayor and building's permits and even a power connection contract from the local electric provider DeCorp.
Despite the bank frantically paying the required fees for the permits last week at the One –Stop –Shop, Fernandez resented why the personnel there accepted them, according to my source.
The pronouncement of Fernandez has added in the bank’s owner woes after Judge Jovito Samadan of Branch -40 of the Regional Trial Court nullified the sale of the edifice after Sangguniang Panlungsod Secretary Ryan Ravanzo, a factotum of Fernandez, filed a petition for Declaratory Relief.
 With the court decision and Fernandez’s saber rattling in the media for the imminent closure of CSSB , I’ll be seeing the new business venture of Ambassador Cabangon-Chua in a roughed ride.
 But my kasimanwa and Chua’s Man Friday Johnny Dayang, chairman of the Publishers Association of the Philippines, Inc., disagreed with my observation, in a media treat he hosted at Chua’s Orchid Hotel, when I told him that Fernandez is bent to persecute the ambassador, whose other controlling business interest are Aliw Broadcasting Corporation, Fortune Life Insurance Co., Incorporated, Eternal Garden Memorial Parks, Warehouse Clubs, Eternal Plans, Inc., and City State Properties, Plans, Inc., and Management Corp., by closing CSSB.
 “Hindi niya pueding gawin iyon,” he quipped.
With Dayang’s adamant reaction and Cabangon Chua’s generosity to treat the members of the local media, are we seeing a looming protracted war between Cabangon-Chua and the Fernandez Administration?
 Incase Fernandez ordered the closure of CSSB and stop the renovation of the former three-star hotel, I see the former ambassador filling a preliminary injunction with mandamus to oblige Fernandez not to stall his business.
 On the other hand, Fernandez in behalf of the city government goes to court by opposing the mandamus filled by the former ambassador.
 Court cases like these just like the nullity penned by Judge Samadan are bane to business undertaking as they take years to be finally settled as both parties appealed any adverse decision to the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court.
As the cases drag till Kingdom Come, Cabangon-Chua loses millions of pesos of revenues notwithstanding the P119 million (or probably higher than that as insinuated by the critics of the McAdore sale).

 Pardon me with these wild imaginations, but could the following scenarios be a possibility?
Cabangon-Chua strikes a deal with the newly elected mayor by dangling an additional sum for the sale that the latter has been assailing as a fire sale, or with his financial and media juggernaut to boot, he abet the pro-Lim media men to undermine the Fernandez administration as it self destruct on its way in 2016 when she runs for reelection against Lim (incase he recovers from his stroke) or his son Brian – the newly elected Vice Mayor.
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